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Summary: In the spring of 2012, four American children find themselves thrust into an unfamiliar fantasy world and part of an unexpected adventure. This story is
Disclaimer: The world of Middle-earth and all its peoples belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien; the three films of The Lord of the Rings belongs to New Line Cinema and to Peter Jackson. This story is not for
Citations: In most chapters, there will be some quotations directly from both the books and/or the movies. Quotations from the books are in italics, and quotations from the movies are underlined. Occasional quotations from other sources as well as silent dialogue, words spoken in emphasis, and passages from the Bible will also be in italics, and those citations will be footnoted at the end of each chapter in which they occur. We will also footnote research sources and credit the ideas of other people.
Thanks: To our beta, Linda Hoyland, who has been of great help with this story. Linda is a well-known and respected writer in the LotR fandom, who also posts on this site.
Chapter 11: That's What Friends Are For
As the children were leaving with Arwen, Gandalf turned to Bilbo and arched an eyebrow, giving a nod. Bilbo winked at him, and turned to Elrond.
"You do know that since those children are going, there is very little point in keeping Merry and Pippin from going as well," said Bilbo.
Elrond sighed. "I still feel allowing them to go would be a mistake."
"Allowing? I am quite sure that they will be going." The old hobbit looked Elrond in the eye. Aragorn looked on, amused. "To accompany Frodo was why they left home. They will not abandon him now."
"I suspect that you are right," Aragorn said dryly.
"There is still the matter of warning the Shire," Elrond responded. "I still think that there might be trouble there." In truth, that objection had held more weight with him than their ages.
Bilbo shook his head. "You don't understand. Merry and Pippin won't go back if Frodo is going forward; they'll just sneak off and follow along behind until it's too late to send them back. They left the Shire to help Frodo, and that's what they will do."
"I agree, Ada," said Aragorn. "They are every bit as stubborn as this one," and he nodded in Bilbo's direction, "and I think there would be trouble ahead if you tried to make them stay behind."
"You may be right. And yet, what of my foreboding of trouble ahead? Do you not wish to send warning to the Shire, old friend?"
Bilbo nodded. "Of course. But it needn't be Merry or Pippin. In fact, if we want the warning to be heeded, it might be better if it's someone else. Their fathers are likely to be too angry at them for going off to actually listen to them, especially Paladin. The Thain has a very short temper."
Gandalf arched an eyebrow. "Bilbo is quite right. Tooks are notoriously short-tempered. Perhaps you should send a messenger. No hobbit would fail to take an Elf seriously."
"And I'll send a letter along," Bilbo added. "I am sure they would all be so surprised to learn I'm still among the living that they'd be very impressed with the seriousness of any word I might send. And I can reassure the Tooks and Brandybucks, I think, that their heirs are safe and sound so far."
"I really think," said Gandalf, "that it's the best course of action."
Aragorn leaned forward. "I would not care to be responsible if the two of them were trailing about in the wild behind us when we leave."
"Very well." Elrond nodded. "Galdor is soon heading back to Mithlond, to report of our Council to Círdan. He will be passing through the Shire, anyway, and can carry our message. And Galdor's mien is serious enough, I think, to impress any number of hobbits."
After a few more moments of discussion, Elrond sent for Merry and Pippin. Bilbo wondered how they would react. He was well aware that both of them anticipated being told, "No." If he knew Merry, the two of them would be worried. He looked forward to their surprise when they learned that they had Elrond's permission to accompany Frodo. While he was not happy at the thought of any of his cousins, or Sam, on this perilous journey, he thought they would fare much better together than apart.
They heard a mutter of voices in the hall, and Elrond stepped to the door, opening it before the two young hobbits could knock.
"Master Meriadoc, Master Peregrin, please enter."
The two young hobbits were very surprised to see Gandalf and Bilbo and Aragorn also in the room. They looked at one another in dismay. At least they could have been spared the humiliation of hearing the bad news in front of people. They gulped, and came into the library; Merry remembered how he had felt as a small child when he had stolen two pies from one of the kitchens in Brandy Hall, and had been called in for punishment, not by his father, but by his grandfather Rory.
Pippin and Merry looked at their feet. Pippin rubbed his left foot behind his right, a sure sign of nervousness.
Elrond shook his head. "Meriadoc and Peregrin, after consulting with Aragorn and Mithrandir—and with Bilbo, who is the senior representative of your family here in Rivendell—I have come to the conclusion that it would, after all, be best if you are both allowed to accompany Frodo on the journey south."
And then the words sank in.
Pippin gave a yell, then he and Merry grabbed one another in a hug and dance of joy, laughing and crying at the same time. Then they looked up finally, to see Elrond smiling kindly, Gandalf's familiar stern twinkle, Aragorn's amused expression, and Bilbo's look of fond indulgence.
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" they both exclaimed.
"Do not thank me. I know that it is your heart's desire not to be separated from Frodo, but you are setting forth into peril and hardship. Yet I do believe that you are well able to handle it, and that you will do all that is in your power to help and support your cousin."
This reminder settled them down quickly, and they looked at the Elf lord solemnly. "We will, sir," answered Merry. Pippin nodded soberly.
"Well, my lads," said Bilbo, "you are well and truly in the frying pan now. I hope that you may keep out of the fire."
Aragorn looked at them sternly. "You will take this seriously, Merry and Pippin," he said. "This is not a hobbit walking party."
They looked offended. "Of course not!" Merry said firmly. "Frodo will be relying on us."
"He certainly will!" Pippin agreed. "Sam is an excellent fellow, and would jump down a dragon's throat to save Frodo, but our cousin will need more than one hobbit with him in this dangerous business, and who better than his kin?" Merry nodded emphatically. Aragorn nodded, satisfied.
"I will be sending word to your fathers," said Bilbo, "to let them know you are going."
"When?" asked Merry sharply.
"The message will be carried to the Shire by way of Galdor of the Grey Havens. He will be returning to his home in just a few days," said Elrond.
"Could he carry word from us as well?" Merry asked. Pippin made a face. If Merry wrote to Uncle Saradoc, he'd have to write his own father as well, and he really disliked writing letters.
"I'm sure he could, Meriadoc," Bilbo replied. "Just bring your letters to me when you have finished, and I will put them in with mine."
The two younger hobbits nodded, and Merry said, "Well, Pip, we had better get started on our preparations."
Pippin looked at him in surprise. They'd already planned on leaving anyway. What other preparations were there? But he said nothing, as he was certain Merry had his reasons.
The two left, and Pippin turned a quizzical eye to his older cousin. "What's left to do?" he asked.
Merry shook his head. "We don't want them thinking we were planning on sneaking off on our own, do we?"
"Ah, well, I see that might not be best."
"Let's go to the library and get our letters written." Merry knew that he'd find quills, ink, and paper in Rivendell's well-stocked library.
Pippin nodded and followed Merry. Might as well get it over with.
Bilbo headed to his own little quarters, and soon was seated at his desk, quill in hand. After a few minutes, he dipped his pen into the ink and began to write.
Dear Paladin and Saradoc,
I am quite certain that you both have been distraught over the absence of your sons. I am sure that you are in equal parts worried and angry.
While I cannot completely ameliorate your worry (for there is reason enough for that), let me do what I can to appease your anger. Merry and Pippin did not leave home for simple adventure. It was no lark that took them after Frodo and Sam, and no whim that caused Frodo to leave, either.
If you must blame anyone, it should be me. I unwittingly brought something home from my own adventure years ago that turned out to be both dangerous and valuable. Apparently, it is now, after all this time, being sought for by some rather unsavory and violent people. When Frodo learned of this, he thought the best way to protect the Shire was to get it away from there. Samwise Gamgee came with him, to look after him and protect him.
Of course, Merry and Pippin would never allow Frodo to go into danger without them, and made it clear they would follow him, will-he or nill-he.
The four of them made it safely here to Rivendell, where I've been living for a number of years. But the dangerous item could not rest here. Frodo and his friends are continuing on. I can't say much more than they are not alone, but have strong and able protectors.
I dare not trust more in writing. The Elf who brings this to you might tell you more. But I do want to warn you, there are those who may still think this thing is in the Shire. You may be facing danger yourselves over the course of the next year.
Be prepared! And once you both have seen this letter, and shown it to Eglantine and Esmeralda, please destroy it, for safety's sake.
Bilbo Baggins, Esq.
Pippin had long since finished his note—Merry did not think it could properly be called a letter, but then it was typical of his younger cousin to never say more in writing
Dear Father and Mother,
I hope that you are not too dreadfully worried. We had to help Frodo out and come with him. We are safe for now.
Give my love to Pearl, Pimmie, and Vinca, and tell Vinca to stay out of my things. I will be home when I can. So will Merry and Frodo and Sam.
Six whole sentences. Almost an epic from Pippin. Then he glanced at his own blank white sheet and looked at his discarded first attempts. It was so hard to try and convey the urgency of their departure without revealing too much. This was almost harder than the letter he had left for his father to find after they were gone. He took a deep breath, dipped the quill, and started once more. Maybe this one would work.
Dear Da and Mum,
We made it safely, more or less, this far. We are in Rivendell among the Elves. You will know by now that Bilbo is here as well, and Gandalf was also here when we arrived.
Our journey had its share of danger, but we had a strong guide from Bree to here. Frodo was injured along the way, but is well on the mend. However, our travels do not stop here, and I do not think we will be home before Spring, at the earliest. Perhaps we will be gone as long as a year. I will do all in my power to keep Frodo and Pip safe. Sam, too, though he is more than capable of taking care of all of us.
Please know that I love you both, and miss you. Keep your eyes open for trouble, because those who pursued Frodo from the Shire may come back, or others just as dangerous.
Mum, I know you will want to keep this letter. Please do not be tempted to do so—destroy it as soon as you and Da have finished with it, and do not speak about it with anyone save Uncle Paladin and Aunt Tina.
Merry pursed his lips as he read it over. Had he said too much? He wondered if Sam might want to write, but he knew the Gaffer could not read, and if he asked someone else to read it to him, then they would also know more than they should. He picked up the quill again, and added a postscript:
P.S. You may speak to Gaffer Gamgee if you can get his word to stay silent on the matter. He is probably worried about his son by now. I leave it up to your judgment.
As soon as he had finished that letter, he took out another sheet of parchment and wrote a second letter that he addressed to Paladin, whom he felt deserved to learn more than Pippin's six sentences alone would tell him. When he had finished, he silently reread the letter and then included it with Pippin's own.
Well, that was that. He felt the stirrings of hunger. Nearly teatime. "Oi, Pip! What say we take these to Cousin Bilbo, and see if he wants us to take tea with him?"
A/N: A portion of this chapter is adapted from Dreamflower's story, https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8744637/1/In-the-Frying-Pan ("In The Frying Pan").
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